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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

Negation in Persian is expressed by a pro-clitic with three different possible positions, either attached to a sentence-final main verb, a light verb in a sentence-final complex predicate, or a sentence-medial auxiliary. Because of this positional promiscuity, the overt morphology is a poor diagnostic for the syntactic position of a Neg head. This paper reports on studies using the scope of negation with respect to subject and object quantifiers in order to determine the position of the Neg head. Determining that the existing argumentation for high negation is inconclusive, we present results on a study using the relative scopes of negation and argument quantifiers to diagnose the position of negation. Combined with the finding that Persian is a scope rigid language, our results suggest that negation must originate quite low in the structure, contra existing analyses, but that some speakers have an overt string-vacuous movement which extends the scope of negation. This is not surprising from a typological perspective, as Korean and Japanese, two other SOV languages, have also been argued to demonstrate the same movement present in only a portion of the population.

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